"The preference would still be not to stock products from the progeny of cloned animals," said Andrew Opie, British Retail Consortium food policy director.
"The word 'cloning' does not resonate well with the consumer. It's still a very sensitive issue. But retailers cannot definitively say they are not sourcing such products, because nobody has the traceability to say that."
Concerns were underlined by criticism of the FSA's stance from consumer group Which? "Our research shows that consumers see little difference between meat and dairy products from actual clones or their offspring," said Which? executive director Richard Lloyd. "As well as an approval process, we want to see a tracking system and clear labelling of these goods on the supermarket shelf," he added, playing down supply chain complexities.
A British Pig Executive (BPEX) spokeswoman said its processor and producer members were gauging the attitude of the major supermarkets. "It seems that retailers are still trying to work out what consumers are really worried about."
Beyond that, she welcomed the move. "We are supportive of the FSA's decision. It means our members are no longer in danger of marketing food not approved by authorities." She particularly backed moves not to advise mandatory labelling of such products, given that industry representatives had claimed it would be impossible to reliably segregate.
An FSA spokeswoman said its advice "has no legal force but is important as it provides guidance to local authorities on how they should enforce the legislation".